I like wine from a box. That’s a hard thing to admit…certainly doesn’t sound classy, does it? After all, I do put the wine in a glass; I don’t just hold my mouth under and dispense. Personally, I think wine from the box has come a long way since Darrell and I would get the big box of Franzia that took up half a shelf in the refrigerator. We usually opt for the smaller boxes now, so that by the time we’re drinking the last glass it doesn’t taste like vinegar. I love drinking just a glass while I’m cooking dinner in the evening, and the box makes it easy to just drink a small one (or add more to it if it’s been a tough day!) I like red wine, so I tell myself how all those antioxidants are helping me ward off dementia and health issues as I grow older.
My favorite wine-in-the-box story comes from my husband’s former co-worker, who also worked a side job as a server at fundraising events. Apparently the crowd at one particular gathering was trying to dazzle the people at their table with their superior wine knowledge, checking the legs (which I’ve learned really doesn’t tell you that much about a wine’s quality) and being a bit snobby about the wine service. They were a demanding group to him, and more than a little condescending. Now the funny thing was that the servers would pour the wine from classy-labeled wine bottles at the tables, but those bottles were filled in the kitchen with wine from a box. I imagine he had a hard time keeping a straight face when one of them declared after tasting, “Well, it’s certainly a lot better than that wine out of a box.”
I have learned a lot about wine over the years and I love going to the wineries and hearing about how they make their wines. Yet I still feel a little self-conscious when I order a bottle of wine at a nice restaurant and they open it at the table, giving me the cork and pouring a tiny amount for me to swirl and take a quick taste. I never quite know how to act besides saying a quick, “Thanks, it’s good.” I’ve wondered how often people spit it out and declare that the wine is horrible and demand the waiter to take it back. I asked a waiter about that one time, and he told me it really doesn’t happen that often when people get bottles—it’s more when they are getting a glass. Fun fact.
Darrell and I have made wine ourselves for several years now. We don’t go out and stomp the grapes or anything, but they have winemaking kits that are actually quite delicious. Our favorite kit to make is a Chardonnay—it always turns out perfect. The labor-intense part of winemaking is the cleaning and sanitizing of all the bottles—a kit makes around 28 bottles. The actual bottling part is fun. I like to think of these kits as idiot-proof. Simply add what the instructions say to add and stir and wait. The beginning of the process resembles what you see in a dirty mop bucket, but as the wine sits in the carboy, the smell of it in the room is wonderful. Similar to how many people feel about coffee, I have never been able to find a wine that tastes as good as the wine smells as it’s fermenting. (Note: The same is not true about brewing beer. Beer smells horrible while it’s brewing!)
This past year my friend Tina has become a consultant for a wine party business called Wine Shop at Home. She comes to your house and walks you through tasting the various wines and food pairings. When you set up the party, you have her order a wine kit (red, white, or mixed) that you want to taste at your party. The company sends you the kit, along with the cards that tell you what kind of food pairings work well with each wine, and voila!—instant party. You pay for the wine kit, but it’s at a discount, so you spend about the same amount you would spend on food and drink if you were having a party anyway. If you have friends that drink wine, it is a great way to try new wines and get together. You can check out her website here for more information about parties or just to learn more interesting facts about wine: http://www.wineshopathome.com/tflower?customerid=355785&MarketShow=565
Darrell and I ended up signing up for the Wine Shop at Home Wine of the Month Club through our party. We’ve gotten some great, high quality wines, and I love reading the description cards that come with them. They give you recipes and food pairings for each wine and tell a little bit about the grapes used and the vineyards they come from. They also describe the wines’ noses and such in terms that make me laugh. (Did I mention I wasn’t very sophisticated?) My favorite description was for the Mariana Vineyard’s Petite Sirah wine. It described the wine like this: “This wine is powerful and the alcohol, even at around 14%, is fairly noticeable in the finish. The attack in the mouth showcases big tannins. The mouthfeel is fluid, fresh and aggressive, with blackberry flavors coming forward.”* That instantly made me think the wine was a bottled version of Attila the Hun and would jump out of the bottle and knock us upside the head. But that’s just my wine-in-the-box humor again. Sorry. I’m working on it.
Because I like to think I am getting a little more sophisticated, or at least more knowledgeable, with these wines. I’ve learned how to discern the various flavors within the wine once they’ve been pointed out to me. Many of the wines are for collecting, and advise that they taste best after 3 -5 years. We’re trying to save them longer, or at least until a special occasion comes around. We’ve been very impressed with the bottles we’ve tried so far. Since we’ll be waiting for these bottles to age a little, it looks like I won’t be getting rid of my wine in a box any time soon. Let’s just hope I don’t get too spoiled with the good stuff that I can’t go back to box wine. Bottoms up!
*Taken from Wine Shop at Home’s description card.